Sugarloaf Peak, White Mountains
By: Wynne Benti
From Soper's Casino at Montgomery Pass, we followed a dirt road past some dilapidated cabins and a small dump full of wrecked cars about six miles to the Tip Top Mine located at the base of Sugarloaf, the northernmost peak in the White Mountains. As we passed the dump, Andy identified one of the cars. Years ago, in the dead of winter. he came upon the very same car in the dump overturned on Highway 6, several miles east of Montgomery Pass. The driver was drunk and both he and his wife were seriously injured. Andy stopped to help them. While they waited for help, the driver desperately wanted to put his injured wife in the driver's seat so she, not being drunk, could take the blame for the spill. However, she was pinned in the passenger seat and any movement would risk even more injury. Andy didn't think she should be moved, so the driver seeing Andy as the one obstacle to his devious plan kept trying to bean Andy on the head from behind. Unable to turn his back on the bloodied driver, hours passed as he waited for someone else to come along the road.
Once past the eyesore at Montgomery Pass, the wilderness begins. The road continues south past the Tip Top Mine to the ridge between Mustang and Sugarloaf. Another fork can be followed down to Fish Lake Valley past an old ghost town. We parked at the mine and walked from there up to the summit. The winds were howling across the exposed ridge and storm clouds graved the afternoon sky but did not obscure the beautiful view of the Sierra Nevada and the crest of the White Mountains. On the way up, we found a Depression era mining claim with claim notice still intact. The summit register contained the business cards of man geologists. From the summit we could see the snowcovered summits of Arc Dome and Mt. Jefferson to the east. We spent some time poking around the Tip Top Mine, where several cabins are hidden out of view in a grove of pinyons.
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